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Florists: the unsung heroes of Valentine’s Day

Posted: January 29th, 2016 | Feature, Featured | No Comments

By Tori Hahn and Joseph Ciolino

One of the most popular businesses on Valentine’s Day is your neighborhood florist, who delivers your expression of love to your significant other. Although Valentine’s Day is not until Feb. 14, florists are already stocking up floral supplies, hiring temporary workers and drivers, and preparing for that special day of the year when business booms.

Here is a glimpse at how several Uptown florists are getting ready for Valentine’s Day:

Mission Hills Florist

Mission Hills Florist logoMission Hills Florist has operated on the corner of Washington and Goldfinch streets for more than 50 years. Beverley and John Ireland — the third family to own and manage the flower shop — have worked since 2005 to provide the community with quality flower arrangements and prompt customer service.

While Beverley manages Mission Hills Florist and two other San Diego flower businesses, El Camino Flower Shop and Jasmine Creek Florist, John helps with marketing for the stores, services weddings and parties, and, during busy holidays, drives the delivery vehicle.

Q: What is the appeal of red roses and how many do you go through on Valentine’s Day?

A: The appeal of red roses is red signifies love, although people don’t always order red. I don’t know how many we go through; completely guessing, I would say maybe 80 dozen or more.

We don’t make [the arrangements] ahead of time. That is not our business model. We make up everything custom made — that’s our niche in the flower world.

Q: What is the biggest seller outside of roses?

A: For the millennials, gerbera daisies are extremely popular. [It’s] a bold, colorful flower that is about 4 inches to 5 inches across and they come in very bold colors: a bright orange, a bright hot pink, gold, yellows, burgundy reds. Young people love them. They’re useful, they’re colorful and they’re long-lasting.

Others that are really popular are Oriental lilies and those have a fabulous fragrance.

Q: What is the weirdest request that you’ve had for Valentine’s Day?

A: We get marriage proposals — people who are actually asking someone to marry them. We’ve sent diamond rings along with those roses in the past before.

Q: How much additional hiring do you do for Valentine’s Day week? How much extra help is needed?

A: Between the three flower shops, there are about six [delivery vans] going out every day. We already hired [extra help] a couple weeks ago, including extra drivers, designer help, people who will clean flowers. … It depends on which day of the week it lands on. Because [Valentine’s Day] is a Sunday this year, I don’t think we’ll be as busy as we have been in the past because people usually like to send flowers to people when they’re at work.

Q: What is the percentage increase in sales compared to a normal week?

A: We won’t know for this year yet. Year to year it varies and it will be different than it was last year, because last year it was on a Saturday and this year it’s on a Sunday.

—Tori Hahn, SDCNN intern

Dave’s Flower Box

Dave Flower Box-LogoDave’s Flower Box — at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Texas Street — has been around for 60 years. Dave Cordova started the shop in 1953, and Jim Martin took over in 2008.

Q: What is the appeal of red roses and how many do you go through on Valentine’s Day?

A: We go through a lot of red roses. All the men do it because it is known as a love flower. We sell well into the thousands of red roses leading up to and on the day of Valentine’s. Anything red is popular in Valentine’s Day and the color is a tradition. I’m not sure where it started but red is the traditional color. 

Q: What is the biggest seller outside of roses?

A: Roses is the biggest seller, red roses is No. 1, then mixed colored roses. We try to keep inexpensive flowers for the customers. Red carnations are popular because they are cheaper. Red, pink and white are usually the popular Valentine’s Day colors. Yellows, oranges and colors like that are never popular on Valentine’s.

When you’ve been here for 60 years, everybody knows who we are and references us: “If you need flowers go to Dave’s because they always have it.”

Make sure they have enough flowers, regardless of if they want one rose or a dozen. Hard-times people will still buy flowers; many may buy only one and then in the good times they have enough to do a dozen. All different kinds of clients being in the Hillcrest area. We make no judgment against anyone. Best time to have them deliver is to deliver to the person at work, to make all the co-workers jealous.

Q: What is the weirdest request that you’ve had for Valentine’s Day?

A: I’ve had people call up to buy 100 roses and some have called for 12 different rose arrangements to be delivered at all different times of the day. It would be as often as 12 different times during the day, delivering flowers pretty close to every hour to the same person. Twelve or ten dozen, have them arranged and have them all delivered throughout the day. I’ve dealt with people that want deliveries at exact times and that is too difficult because we just have too many orders and deliveries during this time.

We enjoy making people happy. We enjoy watching people come in the shop and buy something that will make their loved ones happy. It’s a lot of hard work. We have people working here until midnight just before the holiday. Drivers come in at 7 a.m. and they will work through the day. We are busy because we cover areas including Chula Vista all to way north to Del Mar and east to El Cajon and in between.

During this season we have customers that will come in as early as 7 in the morning and for the next 12 hours the shop will not be empty. There is always a customer.

Q: How much additional hiring do you do for Valentine’s Day week?

A: We’ll have more than 10 drivers on the road for the holiday. We have part-time drivers and people we have on call since it is the weekend. People will come in and work up to a few hours. We have to accommodate the customer. We hire very few for the shop itself. People that work here are extremely efficient. As many as two or three extra people waiting on customers, not large numbers of workers needed in the shop. Not going to hire 10 people.

Q: What is the percentage increase in sales compared to a normal week?

A: Two to three times the amount of business on that day. We preorder things early and we already have orders for Valentine’s Day now. People come in and order on the spot and preorder, there is constant preordering between now and Valentine’s Day. We have into hundreds of orders for delivery. People want their wives and girlfriends to get them on the day that she is at work.

—Joseph Ciolino, SDCNN intern

Green Fresh Florals

green-fresh-florals-logoGreen Fresh Florals is owned by Carlos Franco, who has been in the floral industry for more than 25 years. The shop has been at 3785 Fourth Ave. for six years but Franco has been in business for nine.

Travis Rogers is the manager and main designer at Green Fresh Florals, and talked about Valentine’s Day.

Q: What is the appeal of red roses and how many do you go through on Valentine’s Day?

A: We go through about 500 or more stems of roses on the week of Valentine’s Day.

Q: What is the biggest seller outside of roses?

A: Peonies and tulips because most flower shops don’t carry them. Peonies are not an inexpensive flower and tend to be more popular. Most shops don’t carry that kind of flower; the standard supermarket stuff other shops carry. We carry more interesting and unique blooms.

Most popular flower that our customers want would be the peony. Our shop specializes with more spring flowers and our customers come to us for more variety. The peonies are more expensive and we try to buy as many as possible but they’re out of season. We also go through about 700 stems of tulips and about 300 to 400 stems of hydrangeas.

Q: What is the weirdest request that you’ve had for Valentine’s Day?

A: I have had to spray paint roses black before. It looks amazing and actually it looks like leather. I have had a customer bring in a whip to deliver it with the flowers. There have obviously been weird requests for flowers; there’s the quintessential “dozen red roses with one single white rose in it.”

Sort of happens sometimes. I have delivered an engagement ring before. I wasn’t too comfortable with it at first, but this was a very good customer of ours. I have had really weird card messages. One person wrote a very awkward poem and sent $800 worth of red roses, which is eight dozen red roses.

Q: How much additional hiring do you do for Valentine’s Day week?

A: People freelance for us. We also have people who live in the community that are friends and customers that come and help with things. They will just come and hang out to help out. Obviously we have others that we pay that help out with designs and other stuff. Friends who are customers just like to come into the shop to have fun, be with us and experience the whole thing because they enjoy it.

We’re a family, we love each other and care about each other and just like to have fun together.

Q: What is the percentage increase in sales compared to a normal week?

A: It fluctuates. Based on last year’s sales, we went up about 30 percent to 40 percent during Valentine’s Day week. Generally speaking over the past six years that we have been here, we have seen a general increase about 30 percent. Every year we go up in sales around this time.

—Joseph Ciolino, Tori Hahn, SDCNN interns

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